Keep Your Backyard Slope From Being An Uphill Battle

Do you have to contend with a slope in your yard's landscaping design? While slopes present some unique challenges, they can be managed and even provide a place for some creativity and beauty. How can you do so?  

First Things First

The biggest threat to your slope and its surroundings is from water. This threat comes from two opposite sides: the binding effect of water and its liquidizing effect. To counter both, you must first have good drainage built into your slope. This can include something as simple as gravel bases, or it might necessitate piping to divert runoff to a safer location. When determining how to control the effects of rain on your slope, it's best to work with a qualified professional landscaper. It might even be mandatory, since some ordinances may require engineering approval to deal with larger slopes. 

Erosion control is the second aspect you need to be aware of in order to counter the ongoing forces of water. This is likely to be easier to handle than drainage because it is largely something you deal with on the surface of the slope. Plants will often help control a lot of erosion with their natural root systems. Another easy solution is landscaping cloth placed under the top layer of your planted areas. If your slope requires a little more erosion protection, you may consider hardscaping that's designed to protect soil from sliding away, such as low walls, steps or stones. 

Your Best Options

Working with your contractor, you will find you may have a number of choices to make interesting and attractive landscaping out of your hilly area. Here are 4 of the best ways 

  • Retaining Wall. A low wall can be more than just a way to keep soil in place if you use construction materials that allow you to plant in the nooks and crannies. Trailing plants like creeping phlox, thyme and sweet alyssum planted in loose stone walls will green up your retaining wall.  
  • Terraces. Terracing is a good way to deal with a tall or steep slope where just one retaining wall is insufficient. Placing low walls in intervals with flat spaces in between gives you a great way to create gardens all the way up your slope. 
  • Steps. Whether or not your slope goes anywhere, steps can give it an interesting visual look while still keeping erosion and drainage under control. Line brick or natural stone steps with planters that can be easily maintained and may be changed depending on the season. 
  • Rock Garden. If all else fails, consider ditching the green and decorating with a rock garden. Stones will provide good drainage and the whole area will need much less maintenance than if you try to plant a steep or difficult-to-access area.  

Landscaping a hill can have its own pitfalls, so you may find it best to work with professionals. But by embracing the sloped space instead of ignoring it, you can add personality and charm to an otherwise boring space.